Traversing a newly opened Wolf Creek Pass


At the close of last week’s action, our motorists crossing newly opened Wolf Creek Pass (1916) from east to west were looking down the barrel of a Colt .45 shoved in their face by an inebriated, limber-legged wagon train boss who insisted that, since the narrow pass would only allow one lane of traffic in most places, his eastbound hoss wagons were gonna have priority “by Gar,” and the motorists better back up and get out of the way, according to our storyteller.

“He was so angry and unsteady we could not even guess what he might do. Finally, the men of our group told him to shut up and get back up into his wagon, until they could find a workable plan, or they would pitch him down into the cañon. He sat.

“Then began the most terrifying experience of backing inch by inch on that narrow, slick, steep grade. David always believed in going forward, so was not expert at backing — and especially under such conditions. Joseph’s experience in the Cadillac garage paid off. He showed real efficiency in this case.

“When we got down into the flat lowland, there was no road at all, just mud and water soaked trails, each driver making his own guess which set of workmen’s wagon tracks to follow through the willows until he could connect with next section of ascending road up the mountainside.

“At Box Canyon we had to wait until fifteen heavy dynamite blasts tore away a section of rock, then all the debris had to be cleared away before we could attempt to cross over. At one place a steam drill stood against the rock wall and we had to drive around it on the point of broken rocks. The Cadillac was too long to make the turn around this drill, so again Joseph had to see-saw inch-by-inch to make the turn. Just as we got around the whole point slid off into the stream below.

“None of the other cars carried food, so when we found a slightly dry spot under a spruce tree, the Hatchers and we invited the group to eat with us, as we had an ample supply from our camp. Every man had shoveled, pushed, and lifted, and worked his best for everyone who needed help. We had showers all day long. There seemed to be no bottom to the road with this rain on the new construction. When we began to climb, the road was so slick, or again so sticky, it took the five cars three hours, to cover only a quarter of a mile. Added to all these delays, the Chalmers and Cadillac each had flat tire. Now night was coming and we were still two and one half miles from Mr. Logan’s work camp.”

Continued next week. Merry Christmas.